One year ago today, I attended a funeral for a man I barely knew.

I always liked him,  we had spoken on a few occasions and my little superpower of knowing the kind of person someone is right away had let me know that he was a sweet, funny guy who I could easily get along with. Despite this, I felt completely out of place attending his funeral- what right did I have to be there, among his loved ones, the hearts he’d touched so deeply? I was there out of support. I was there because the people that I loved, loved him dearly. And I was there because it was right where I was supposed to be.

It’s devastating seeing the families and friends of those lost too soon. If you’ve never seen it, I can’t explain the sick, gut-wrenching feeling of watching a man’s children grieve over him. I’ve seen it a few times, and I never want to see it again. Watching his mother beg to take her son home was one of the most devastating things I’ve ever seen in my life. But there’s a reason I’m sharing all of this.

One year ago today, at a funeral for a man I barely knew, our beautiful The Chill saved my life.

She didn’t know it at the time, of course.  At the time I was dealing with a pretty dark place in my mind, one I’m ashamed to say I visit all too often anymore. I had been there a lot, in the days leading up to his funeral. And as his casket was carried out, The Chill collapsed into my arms, and I heard her sobs, and I broke apart with her. As selfish as it might have been in that moment, all I could think was, “I can’t do this to them or my family on purpose. I can’t make them hurt like this.”

Today, I got on Facebook to see a memorial post about this funeral with a shout out to me for keeping her from crumbling to the ground, and I was the one collapsing to the ground. I needed to respond, but with more than a simple comment, because she did so much more for me that day, and every day since- she and La Rana keep me going- but more than that, today, oh, I needed the reminder so much today. I find myself railing so hard against those same demons and I feel as though the harder I fight the more ground they gain on me. As much as I ache for her even now, I needed so badly to remember her pain- to remember why that’s something I can never choose.

So thank you, thank you, The Chill. I loves yous, more than you’ll ever know.

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